States Prep Lawsuit That Could Devastate Big Pharma

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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The same lawyer that took on big tobacco and landed the largest corporate settlement in the history of the U.S. is gearing up for his next victim: the opioid industry.

Mike Moore, the former attorney general of Mississippi, began asking states last summer to sue pharmaceutical companies for what he argued was a calculated misrepresentation of the benefits and addictions risks of using opioids. Moore wants to get roughly 25 states behind his cause, and build such a strong case against the pharmaceutical industry that it is forced to cower to the states’ demands.

Moore used a similar strategy in 1994 as Mississippi attorney general, filing the first ever state lawsuit against tobacco companies. He later helped spearhead another lawsuit and negotiations that ended in a $246 billion settlement.

He now runs his own private law firm in Mississippi, Mike Moore Law Firm. He notably took on the federal government on behalf of BP oil company in spring 2017, which ended in a $20 billion settlement for damages caused in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill.

Some 40 state attorney generals are already launching initial investigations to probe the viability of a lawsuit.

The potential lawsuit that Moore wants would argue that opioids don’t simply lead to addiction when they are abused, but they also lead to addiction when used in physician-directed amounts. That is to say, even when used appropriately, opioids pose a serious threat to patients’ health.

Moore’s goal for the lawsuit is to make treatment for drug abuse more widely available, and help further educational programs for physicians to change prescribing habits of opioids.

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